China To 'Fight At All Costs' For 'Reunification' With Taiwan: Defence Minister

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said the US was investing heavily in the Indo Pacific region to maintain its military superiority and capability to defend its Asian allies. — AFP

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said the US was investing heavily in the Indo Pacific region to maintain its military superiority and capability to defend its Asian allies. — AFP

Shanahan was speaking at the first plenary session of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, where he stressed that "no one nation can - or should - dominate the Indo-Pacific" and that it was in the interests of all nations to work together for a shared future.

Shanahan said that he did not see the current trade dispute between China and the United States as a trade war, but rather just part of trade negotiations.

Wei, the first Chinese minister to attend Shangri-La in almost a decade, was unrepentant as he defended China's activities in the South China Sea and criticised what he said were "people who try to make profits by stirring up trouble in the region".

The United States will no longer "tiptoe" around Chinese regime's behavior in Asia that has threatened stability in the region, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on June 1.

"Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based worldwide order", he said, at the Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore.

It was the latest exchange of acerbic comments between the two sides as their ties come under increasing strain due to a bitter trade war, U.S. support for Taiwan and China's muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.

The trade conflict between the USA and China took a dramatic turn for the worse in May when President Donald Trump hiked tariffs after accusing Beijing of reneging on commitments in negotiations.

Earlier in the day, Wei told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) would not "yield a single inch of the country's sacred land". "No attempt to split China will succeed".

Lich addressed the Asian premier defense dialogue Shangri-La by pointing to high risks of conflicts in the South China Sea, which he calls an area that hosts all kinds of competition from economy to military and foreign affairs. On Sunday, Wei said the countries recognize that a conflict or war between them would have wide-reaching effects.

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He also dismissed suggestions that his speech this year was much of the same as that voiced by previous US speakers at the summit, pointing out that this time there was funding, resources, and a plan to back them up.

On Friday, Beijing warned that the United States should not underestimate China's military during a meeting between Shanahan and Wei on the sidelines of the conference. Wei said China built "limited defense facilities" but much of it was aimed at improving services and infrastructure for people living there. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Taiwan elected a pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen, in 2016.

"The problem, however, is that in recent years some countries outside the region come to the South China Sea to flex muscles, in the name of freedom of navigation".

"The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence", Wei said of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

"Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history".

In a speech that was both challenging and cooperative, he said China is ready to fight the United States on trade but the door remains open for talks, throwing the ball into Washington's court.

To alleviate the possibility of conflict, the USA and Chinese militaries have agreed to engage in dialogue, while the door is always open for the United States to discuss trade relations.

Washington later slapped additional tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen said on Sunday that it would be impossible for the United States to use external pressure to force a trade agreement, and that it was irresponsible of Washington to accuse Beijing of backtracking.

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